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Court Upholds Defendant’s Right to Join Third Party in Auto Accident Lawsuit

Earlier this month, an Arizona appellate court issued a written opinion that addressed an issue common in many personal injury cases here in Georgia. Specifically, the court addressed a defendant’s ability to ask the court to add an additional defendant whom the initial defendant believed was at least partially at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Smashed HoodCramer v. Starr:  The Facts of the Case

Ms. Mungia was involved in a rear-end accident. The driver of the other car was Cramer. After the accident, Mungia immediately experienced back pain. She consulted with a chiropractor for some time before deciding to undergo a back surgery in hopes of correcting the lingering pain she was experiencing. However, the surgery was not successful, and it may have exacerbated Mungia’s back pain.

Mungia filed a lawsuit against Cramer, seeking monetary compensation for all the injuries she sustained, including those arising from the allegedly negligent medical care provided by the doctor who performed the surgery. Only Cramer was named in the lawsuit. However, before the trial began, Cramer asked the court to name the doctor in the lawsuit as well, arguing that the doctor was at least in part responsible for Mungia’s injuries.

The lower court denied the request to add the doctor as a defendant. Not satisfied, Cramer appealed. On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision, allowing the defendant to name the doctor in the lawsuit. In making the decision, the court looked at state statutes as well as old common-law principles. The court explained that under state law, a defendant can only be held liable for their own share of the damages they caused the plaintiff. Thus, if the court prohibited the defendant from naming the doctor as a party in the lawsuit, it was possible that Cramer would end up being liable to Mungia for all the damages, even though some of the harm may have been caused by the doctor’s negligent treatment.

The court did leave room for a judge or jury to find Cramer entirely liable. The court explained that when a defendant causes harm to a plaintiff, that defendant can still be held liable for any foreseeable consequences of their negligence, including negligent medical treatment. However, such liability will depend largely on the facts of each case.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Georgia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have endured. When multiple parties are involved in a lawsuit, things get exponentially more complicated. It is also very important to a case that all procedural rules are followed from the very beginning. Thus, a skilled personal injury attorney is indispensable. Call Miller Legal Services today at 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Georgia car accident attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Photographic Evidence of Uneven Sidewalk Taken 30 Days after Injury Deemed Insufficient to Raise Question of Liability, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 4, 2016.

Lawsuit Stemming from Unsafe Fence Dismissed Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Submit Necessary Evidence of Negligence, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2016.